Coe caught on wrong foot
Olympic ticket-holders will be "free to wear the clothing of their choice" inside Games venues, according to organisers, despite the Olympic delivery chairman, Lord Sebastian Coe, saying people wearing advertising logos of non-Olympic sponsors would be turned away.other Updated: Jul 21, 2012 01:00 IST
Olympic ticket-holders will be "free to wear the clothing of their choice" inside Games venues, according to organisers, despite the Olympic delivery chairman, Lord Sebastian Coe, saying people wearing advertising logos of non-Olympic sponsors would be turned away.
In an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Coe said the Olympic organising committee, Locog, had a responsibility to protect the commercial "rights of sponsors".
He said spectators would not be able to gain entry wearing a Pepsi T-shirt but that they would "probably" get in wearing Nike trainers.
Commercial rivals Adidas and Coca-Cola are the official London 2012 Olympic sponsors in their industries. The rules are in place to prevent so-called "ambush marketing" by rival brands, but a spokesperson for Locog said people wearing clothing with other brands would not be prevented from entering venues.
Speaking this morning, Coe said: "We had to raise through the organising committee a mountainous amount of money from the private sector."
"The organising committee pretty much raises all of its money through that area and we do it thorough sponsorship and we do it through broadcasting rights. And when you have big British businesses that are prepared to really invest in the Games, you have the responsibility to protect them.
"We have to protect the rights of the sponsor because in large part they pay for the Games."
"You probably wouldn’t be able to [walk in] with a Pepsi T-shirt because Coca-Cola are our sponsors and they’ve put millions of pounds into this project but also millions of pounds into grassroots sport. It is important to protect those sponsors."
Asked if people could enter venues wearing Nike trainers, Coe replied: "I think you probably could … You probably would be able to walk through with Nike trainers."
However, responding after the interview, Locog said: "As an individual you are free to wear clothing of your choice … of course. Including trainers." They affirmed that this would also include a T-shirt emblazoned with a non-sponsor’s logo, adding that the rules were different for those working at venues.
However, Locog’s advice to those travelling to events states that there are restrictions of "any objects or clothing bearing political statements or overt commercial identification intended for ‘ambush marketing’".
Ambush marketing has a long history dating back at least to the Atlanta Games in 1996, when spectators in the crowd were handed Nike paper flags to wave, infringing Reebok sponsorship. More famously at those Games, Linford Christie wore contact lenses overlayed with a Puma logo during a press conference.
In recent months, Locog has been criticised for strictly enforcing sponsorship advertising rules after a butcher near the Olympic sailing venue in Weymouth was asked to remove a sign displaying a ring of sausages and saying, "fantastic 2012", and a cafe on the torch relay route was asked to stop advertising its "flaming torch breakfast baguette".
A Locog spokesperson said Coe could have got muddled because of differing rules for spectators and those working and volunteering at venues. "I think it is just the workforce who have to wear Adidas trainers. There’s a lot going on at the moment."